New Balance is readying a global marketing strategy it believes can resonate with players of all levels and take Puma’s crown as the world’s third biggest football brand.
It will be a tough ask for New Balance to shake a market where brand loyalty is fierce among fans from a young age. But the business is going to give it a go after it rebranded Warrior Sports’ real estate in the sport – kit deals with Liverpool FC, Stoke City, Sevilla and Porto - and set a summer date for its first football boot.
Where the likes of Nike, Adidas and Puma celebrate the almost superhuman-feats of some of the world’s greatest players, New Balance’s effort will try to encapsulate parts of the game that players can aspire to no matter how good they are. A Wolfpack-created ad will attempt to crystalise this ethos, playing up the brand’s heritage in performance apparel so that people can see it is not just a lifestyle footwear maker.
Paid social media will extend the theme, while New Balance will also call on the reach of a burgeoning player roster that already includes Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Manchester City’s Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany. The players are heavily involved in the development of its boots, an aspect the business plans to hype in its bid to stand apart from rival brands.
People seeing the brand’s ads should feel that if it’s good enough for the likes of Ramsey and Nasri then it’s good enough for them, the business said.
A big part of the brand’s growth in recent years has been a social media offering that has gradually extended to multiple parts of the business, from brand marketing to corporate responsibility, while simultaneously extending to more platforms.
This is backed by a retail strategy concentrated on online specialists instead of mass reach in stores such as Sports Direct and JJB Sports.
Matt Bennett, co-founder and chief creative officer at Wolfpack, said: “Whether you’re a pro player or a park player, New Balance’s strategy is to create products that actually lift your game. It’s this consumer and player first attitude that we’re building a lot of the content around.
“The fact that New Balance has grown massively over the last three years in the lifestyle market means that there’s strong awareness. People understand that [New Balance] is a cool lifestyle brand but aren’t aware that underpinning that is performance. People are wearing shoes that are made from technology that was breaking marathon records in the 80s.”
The aim is to displace Puma as the third biggest football brand, added Bennett, who declined to put a timeframe on the objective. “I would hope that within 24 to 36 months people are viewing New Balance as a very credible and innovative product.”
Some of those people will already be fans of the brand’s lifestyle shoes. Lifestyle has played a key role in the brand’s expansion beyond the running category, exposing it to sneakerheads worldwide. The bigger audience has seen the business post 17 per cent sales jumps annually since 2010 to reach $3.3bn last year with much of the growth outside its US homeland. International revenues increased more than 25 per cent year-on-year in 2014.